Unfortunately for one Whangarei District Counci' />

Oh dear. The first rule of joke emails is to check where you're sending them before you hit send.

Unfortunately for one Whangarei District Council worker, this picture was sent to every media contact on the authority's database with the caption: "Wonder how many times he gets pulled over??!" The council has apologised to hundreds of journalists for what it called a "highly inappropriate" blooper by business records clerk Alf Peri.

Mr Peri received the email from his cousin, a customs worker, who sent it because he "liked bikes".

A naked female body forms the shape of the motorbike, with the rider sitting to the rear.

Mr Peri issued a recall message five minutes after sending the picture; an email of apology from council chief operating officer Jude Thompson followed.

"An email has been sent in error to our media distribution list by one of our employees - the content of the email is highly inappropriate and we apologise unreservedly for any offence caused," Ms Thompson wrote.

Later in a statement, she said the council took the matter very seriously and was following several internal procedures to address it. A spokeswoman wouldn't say if Mr Peri would face disciplinary action.

Mr Peri would not comment. But Auckland customs officer Fran Perham, whose name and business email came with the photograph, said she sent it without giving it any particular thought. "I sent it because he likes bikes - he's my cousin."

The comment was already attached to the photograph when she received it, and she added nothing.

A Customs Service spokesman confirmed the district council had told his organisation about the email but he had yet to see it, and had no comment in the meantime.